Research Status: The Future of the Social Web, Social Media In A Recession

I’ve been laboring over the last few weeks on my latest report, the future of the social web. It’s been very difficult to boil down interviews with the world’s top minds on the social web. I’ve interviewed folks from: Google, MySpace, OpendID Foundation, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lotus, RWW, Federated Media, Plaxo, Dell, Cisco EOS, Flock, Meebo, Gigya, Intel, Razorfish, Six Apart and others. I’ve over 25 pages of raw notes, all representing their different corporate strategy and a mixture of opinions. I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy to find the pattern.

When I need to do heavy problem solving, and find those patterns, I disconnect. So I did.

I went offline on Monday, I drove to one of my favorite remote locations on the Pacific coast where there is no wifi, no powerplugs, no cubicles, few people, and tried to decipher all of the viewpoints. I worked from my car, talked outloud, went for walks, ran on the beach with @goodboyrumba in tow until I was able to figure out what I needed to do. I finished my last interviews with Adam Nash of LinkedIn, Angela who runs marketing at MySpace, and the brilliant Chris Messina who works on the Open ID foundation. Somewhere inbetween finishing my last interviews and my third jog, it started to gel.

I have to thank Josh Bernoff who took my calls during the day, and let me bounce ideas off him, he’d give me a requirements that I needed to hit. It’s become clear that there are at least 5 eras of the social web and we’re entering the second one now, and will soon enter at least 2 of them perhaps by the end of this year. I blog about some of the concepts and theories as I know that friending will someday go away, and when CRM systems connect to social networks registrations pages will be extinct. It feels good to finally be able to document the framework –now to spelling it out what it means to consumers, social networks, and brands.

Another report that we’ve been working on, Tom Cummings and Josh Bernoff worked with me in a collaborative function is a very timely report that will showcase the findings from a recent survey among marketers. We found that a majority of marketers that we surveyed will increase their spend on social media marketing –even in the face of a recession. This is tremendous news for the social media space as it’s one of the few markets in the world that are increasing (that aside from human vices).

In a few hours, I’m boarding a plane and headed to Austin to meet some clients, then I’ll be at the SXSW conference for the interactive session along with thousands of others in the social media space. I’m not sure which events I’ll be headed to, there’s at least 4-6 parties every night, and dozens of sessions I want to attend each day. On Sunday at 10am, I’ll be on the mainstage (room A) that if I remember can fit a few thousands and we’ll be debating spec work (crowdsourcing design), I know it’s a fiery topic, but I’m going to take the stand that: It’s happening, so you designers and buyers better figure out how it works, or get out of the way. Update: our panelist is wired magazine, read their blog post. I’m avoiding scheduling any meetings at SXSW, instead, I just want to go with the flow, so I hope to meet you at SXSW, one way to track where I’ll be is by following my tweets. I’ll be very slow in responding to emails till the end of SXSW.